We Must Unite to Defeat the So-Called Islamic State
By VFJ Dr. Hasan Zillur Rahim
The Islamic State (IS) extremists are on a gruesome killing spree. The video of the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley, 40, disseminated worldwide, is only the latest reminder that, unless nipped in the bud, IS will kill and maim anyone crossing its path as it attempts to enforce its nihilistic ideology in large swaths of Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, and elsewhere.
As President Obama rightly observed of the IS, “They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion.”
Religious minorities targeted by the IS includes the Yazidis, practitioners of perhaps the oldest religion of the world. These peace-loving but vulnerable people, whose history goes back 6,000 years, are now facing extermination through the satanic cruelties of the IS fanatics.
People of conscience everywhere, particularly Muslims, must rise to stop the IS.
Why particularly Muslims?
Because the IS consists of so-called Muslims who have vowed to establish a blood-drenched Caliphate in which only their distorted version of Islam - a fusion of misogyny, intolerance and mayhem – will hold sway.
We have an obligation to snatch our faith from the clutches of fanatics.
It is no use trying to reason with these killers with verses from the Quran, that there is no compulsion in religion, or that Allah loves those who are merciful.
Scholarly arguments have no sanctity with killers.
But it is also impractical to suggest that ordinary Muslims should travel to IS-held territories to fight the fanatics, although it has become evident that misguided jihadists from Britain, France, Germany, Australia and America have strengthened the rank and file of IS forces.
To defeat this lethal organization will require the organized military forces of nations. The United States has started bombing areas around Mosul in Iraq and other IS strongholds. This is different from attacking a nation based on the mythical existence of weapon of mass destruction and the incalculable tragedy of the Iraq War. Muslims nations must leave politics aside and unite to support other nations in whatever capacity they can to defeat the IS.
Meanwhile, ordinary Muslims everywhere must unequivocally condemn the IS and its practices. We cannot indulge in selective outrage in our protestations. We march in the streets (as we should) when non-Muslims kill Muslims but are often unfortunately silent when Muslims kill Muslims. The stark fact is that Muslims kill far more Muslims than non-Muslims. Justice demands that we raise our voice against oppression anywhere, regardless of who the oppressor is.
In mosques in our countries, we must use the platform of the Friday sermons to take a stand against the IS. The black banner of the IS must be torn down before it has a chance to flutter in the wind.
One area where we can counter the Islamic State is Social Media. The IS extremists are savvy with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and such. We too can post our thoughts and opinions in these media to unequivocally condemn the IS. The battle is fought not only on the ground and in the air but also in the cyber world which is open to all.
We must not give in to wishful thinking. The Islamic State will not fold at the first hint of defeat. Neither is its ambition confined to the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates. The “State” is led by one Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who has the audacity and the arrogance to claim Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) lineage. He and his battle-hardened deputies will try to continue their reign of terror overtly and covertly for as long as they can.
But their defeat will be permanent when, along with devastating losses on the physical battlefields, they also realize that the overwhelming majority of Muslims have rejected them by countering their barbaric propaganda on the digital battlefield with the truth.